Since I already touched on this subject, I figured I should expound upon it, probably at length (I apologize if I miss any salient plot points). I’m sure there are tons of rants about this particular subject out on the interwebs (I read quite a good one just a few days ago), but I haven’t had a chance to publicize my rant so I’m going to do it right here comma damn it! And hopefully in an entertaining fashion for you the reader.
I picked up a subscription to the Amazing Spider-man somewhere near the end of J. Michael Straczynski’s writing. I liked the writing and the stories. Sure, he was trying to give Spider-man a magic origin instead of a science origin, but I don’t mind that; it’s not as though magic makes any less sense than an irradiated spider bite giving Peter superpowers instead of causing him to die of radiation poisoning. As I said, I approved of Peter Parker marrying Mary Jane Watson. It made him less whiny. Sadly, someone at the Boardroom level *cough*JoeQuesada*cough* at Marvel decided that:
b) Spider-man as a married man doesn’t appeal to the right demographic, which he would if he was a swinging single man
c) He just didn’t like it
And so what happened was possibly the worst retcon in the history of retcons – One More Day. I say possibly in that One Moment in Time followed, which may top OMD for worst retcon ever (more on that below). The basic plot summary is this – in order to save the life of his extremely elderly aunt who had been shot, Peter Parker entered into a deal with Mephisto (the incarnation of Evil) to trade the entire existance of his marriage for his aunt’s life. He did this, despite the fact pretty much everyone, including his aunt, told him the best thing was to let her die. Aunt May’s what, 92 anyway? Let the lady go with some dignity. Also, MJ was pretty obviously suffering from morning sickness, so Peter was also ready to trade the life of his unborn daughter. What makes the overall writing of this story worse is that Peter actually did try to save May’s life by asking for help from several of his allies. While Peter Parker often (very often) does display a stunning lack of common sense, especially for someone who’s supposed to be really smart (as in, “In a cave! With scrap!” smart), even he’s not going to the devil first. He asked Dr. Strange, Reed Richards, and Tony Stark, who are possibly three of the most intelligent men in the Marvel universe. He could have also tried his connections with the X-men, who have a team member whose sole power is to heal, but I forgive the writing a little on that one since they X-men were going through (and to some degree still are) a very anti-non-mutant phase (which may be ranted upon later). How bad was this part of the story?
a) Dr. Strange has been healing people for a long time (although apparently this was only a prelude to his forgetting that basic skill [see New Avengers when Mockingbird gets shot]). Magic-users in most genres tend to be a bit (or more) on the squishy side when it comes to physical prowess. I think it would behoove any magic-user to learn some healing magic up front or at least keep some healing potions around (why, no, I’ve never played a wizard in D&D who starts with one lousy hit die, why do you ask?). But even Stephen couldn’t magic away a bullet wound. He calls on the powers of virtual gods in the Marvel universe to help him bend time and space and beat up the Dread Dormamuu, so I’d think a bullet wound would not be beyond such powers. Alas, I am wrong, and that makes me sad. But besides being a sorcerer (occasionally even the Sorcerer Supreme), the man is an actual freaking surgeon (yes, he went to medical school and everything) and still no help there.
b) Reed Richards is a man that not only believes six impossible things before breakfast, he builds six impossible things before breakfast. He beat Galactus twice. He has built portals to uncharted dimensions, micro-verses, mega-verses, other universes, yet couldn’t figure out how to fix a bullet wound.
c) Tony Stark builds advanced technology without half trying (i.e. “In a cave! With scrap!”), and in fact the first thing he built was a modification of a medical device so one could assume he has familiarity with medical technology, but couldn’t build something to cure a bullet wound.
d) Also, I initially forgot, but Spider-man also asked Dr. Doom for help. And Doom couldn’t help him? Really? Doom? The guy who is as good at inventing as Reed Richards and a fairly accomplished sorcerer in his own right? He lives for this sort of thing! There was a storyline in the X-men in which Shadowcat was losing control of her phasing ability and could potentially phase out of existence. I forget why the X-men went to Doom, but they did and he agreed to help them because then they would owe him a favor. But no, Doom could do nothing. For a bullet wound. ARGH!
So not only does this storyline make Peter Parker look terrible, it makes three other superheroes and one of the most bad-ass villains ever look completely incompetent. This is made worse in OMIT (hm, I never noticed what an appropriate acronym that is until now), but more on that later. The extent to which logic is tortured to lead to this contrived, stupid conclusion is astounding.
So in the end the marriage is erased and Aunt May is alive (and apparently Harry Osborn is alive again because why the hell not; it’s a retcon). Unfortunately, the writers didn’t even bother to straighten out the logical issues that would arise if MJ and Peter had never been married. The way it all fell out was more like they just divorced. I, like many fans, hated this development. I hated it almost as much as I hate Scrappy Doo.